Zo keeps word, Jordan keeps missing


X-factor: Zo talks the talk, walks the walk

Rodman gets under Zo's skin

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Ron Harper feeds Dennis Rodman for a reverse layup.
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Alonzo Mourning leaves a huge welt on Scottie Pippen's forehead.
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Dennis Rodman scores a takedown on Mourning.
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A Zo-Rodman scuffle spills into the crowd.
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Alonzo Mourning explains the Heat's new attitude. (Courtesy: NBA/NBC Sports)
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Don't expect more predictions from Zo. (Courtesy: NBA/NBC Sports)
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Michael Jordan has no excuses. (Courtesy: NBA/NBC Sports)
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Tim Hardaway says the Heat needs to keep running the Bulls.
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Pat Riley is glad Jordan didn't get to hit a game-winner. (Courtesy: NBA/NBC Sports)
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Riley says there's no escaping Dennis Rodman. (Courtesy: NBA/NBC Sports)
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Phil Jackson explains why the Bulls had most of Sunday off. (Courtesy: NBA/NBC Sports)
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Box score | Game recap | Game flow

MIAMI -- Alonzo Mourning backed up his guarantee of victory with 18 points and 14 rebounds Monday and Miami took advantage of awful shooting by Michael Jordan for an 87-80 victory over the Chicago Bulls, keeping the Heat alive in the Eastern Conference finals.

Airball Jordan: Michael Jordan made only two of his first 22 shots and finished the game 9 for 35. Scottie Pippen wasn't so hot, either, going 5 for 17.

Now that's better: In the first three games, Miami averaged 73 points and shot 37 percent from the field, including 25 percent on 3-pointers. The Heat scored 87 points Monday, shot 43 percent overall and hit 37 percent from 3-point range.

Heat doesn't wilt: The Bulls made their customary run in the second half, but this time Miami didn't crumble under Chicago's defensive pressure.

"We will win Monday," Mourning had said after Miami lost the first three games.

"I didn't regret predicting a victory," Mourning said after Game 4. "I knew we were going to have a totally different attitude and play the game a lot more focused and aggressive. We just had a different approach to the game."

Despite nearly blowing a 21-point lead, Miami improved to 5-0 in elimination games during the postseason. Game 5 is Wednesday at Chicago.

"We're not concerned. We know we can play better," Jordan said. "We showed in the second half the intensity we can play at and how they can get rattled. We feel confident that if we play our game as we did in the second half, we'll be all right."

Jordan scored 29 points and was 11 for 13 from the foul line, but he was just nine for 35 from the field and missed all eight of his 3-point attempts. He missed his first 14 shots and was two for 22 from the field through three quarters before carrying the Bulls in the fourth period.

"Physically, I felt good," Jordan said. "In the first quarter I found myself trying to beat the shot clock, so I really didn't get any good looks. From that point on, I found myself pressing, just trying to find a rhythm to my game. I was just missing easy shots."

Shot chart
Michael Jordan was 2 for 22 through three quarters (above), but he was 7 for 13 in the fourth period (below).

Shot chart

The Bulls had most of the day off Sunday, so Jordan played a lot of golf.

"I don't think that had anything to do with the way I played today," Jordan said. "I'm not going to blame what I did today on what I did yesterday. I felt fresh. I felt good. I played 45 minutes. I can't say that bothered my energy level."

When Jordan finally heated up, he scored 18 consecutive Chicago points to cut the deficit to 79-78 with 2:17 remaining.

"When he started making them, they just came, came, came, came, came," Miami's Tim Hardaway said. "He's a scorer. He's The Man."

Jordan missed a jumper that could have given the Bulls the lead, and Mourning had two free throws and a dunk in the final 90 seconds that sealed the win.

Hardaway had 25 points, seven assists and six rebounds, and he was five for 13 from 3-point range.

"He was the X-factor for their ballclub today," Bulls coach Phil Jackson said of Hardaway. "We'll have to identify him better for Game 5."

Jamal Mashburn added 17 points, Voshon Lenard scored 13 and Isaac Austin 12 for Miami, which beat the Bulls for the first time in 10 postseason meetings.

A 3-pointer by Lenard gave Miami its largest lead at 56-35 with 8:47 left in the third quarter. At that point, Jordan still hadn't made a shot.

Jordan finally ended his drought 38 seconds later with a foul-line jumper, triggering a 22-5 burst that closed the period and pulled Chicago within 61-57.

"We knew he would make one somewhere," Miami coach Pat Riley said of Jordan. "It's amazing how that could happen to anyone, especially him."

Scottie Pippen scored six points and Jordan five in the spurt, which was helped along by sloppy play by the Heat. Miami had nine turnovers in the third quarter after committing only five in the first half.

Alonzo Mourning, right, made his point Monday.

Jordan hit a spinning jumper early in the fourth quarter, cutting the deficit to 63-59. Austin answered with five points during a 9-1 run that extended Miami's lead to 72-60 with 8:34 to go.

Then Jordan found his range. He made a jumper, then two more after a free throw by Austin. Mourning missed two free throws and Jordan made a 10-footer from the corner, cutting it to 73-68 with 5:12 left.

Mashburn made a 3-pointer and Jordan answered with two foul shots and a fadeaway from the foul line. A trap forced a Miami turnover and Jordan sank two more free throws, making it 76-74 with 3:22 remaining.

Hardaway made a 3-pointer, but Jordan made two free throws and a jumper from the right wing. However, Jordan missed his next shot and Mourning hit two free throws for an 81-78 edge with 1:28 to play.

"We got him to miss one big shot when we were ahead by three and we were able to convert on it," Riley said.

The Bulls missed again and Lenard made two free throws with 44 seconds left. Chicago's Brian Williams had a tip-in with 31 seconds to go, but Miami sealed the victory on the ensuing possession, thanks to Mourning and backup point guard John Crotty.

Riley put Crotty in the lineup to give Miami an extra ballhandler against Chicago's pressure defense. On the game-clinching play, Crotty worked his way through the Bulls and passed to Mourning for a baseline jam with 23 seconds remaining.

Tim Hardaway, right, scored 25 points and hit five 3-pointers.

"People have called us overachievers, said we've got a team full of CBA players, never really gave us the credit," Mourning said. "We've managed to overcome all the obstacles."

In the first three games of the series, Miami averaged 73 points and shot 37 percent from the field, including 25 percent on 3-pointers. The Heat improved Monday, scoring 87 points, shooting 43 percent (33 for 76) overall and hitting 10 of 27 (37 percent) from 3-point range.

"We were down 0-3," Hardaway said. "We didn't play well at all and we quit in Game 3. They embarrassed us mentally and physically. We wanted to come out and show them something. Alonzo guaranteed a win so we had to come out and support our teammate."

Pippen scored 14 points and Dennis Rodman had 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Bulls, who shot 35 percent (30 for 85) and made just four of 27 from 3-point range.

Chicago shot just 33 percent (12 for 36) in the first half.

"We were out of synch in the first half," Jackson said. "We weren't very effective. They ran well on us and we got ourselves mired in an uphill battle."

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